The Indonesian archipelago spreads in a wide arc of more than 5,000 kilometers from mainland South East Asia to Papua New Guinea. Dotted with volcanoes, covered with lush tropical vegetation and bright green rice fields, and surrounded by coral reef, the Indonesian islands are one of the world’s most beautiful places.
No one really knows how many islands Indonesia has. The most commonly offered figure is 16,700, with some 6,000 of these named and 1,000 inhabited. A more thorough recent survey however, came up with 18,585 – but during what season and which tidal stage this count was made, has not been listed. But there is no doubt that Indonesia is the largest island nation in the world, with more than 80,000 kilometers of coastline (more than any other nation) and 3.1 million square kilometers of territorial waters. Indonesia is the fourth-largest country, with 203 million inhabitants. Most of them are Muslim, but there are significant Christian and Hindu minorities. Racially the majority of Indonesians are of Malay-Polynesian descent, with Chinese and Papuan minorities. The capital and largest city is Jakarta, located on the island of Java. The Indonesian language is a variant of Malay, which, in this nation of hundreds of language, has long served as the lingua franca of trade.
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The large island forming the western shore of the archipelago of Indonesia is a vast and varied region of rich geological and culture diversity. From Medan in the north with its Neolithic (Stone Age) culture and magnificent Lake Toba to the matrilineal society of the Minangkabau people in Western Sumatra, the island offers vibrant scenery, rich cultural heritages, and a rather developed infrastructure of highways making overland journeys most enjoyable. Sumatra is also called “a region of wild beauty”. Made up of the unbroken line of mountains, 93 volcanoes, roaring rivers, green rain forest and vast tracts of lowland, swamp, mangrove and national parks such as Mount Leuser National Park, Bohorok – the rehabilitation center of Orang Utans - Kerinci Sablat National Park, Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, and Way Kambas National Park.
One of the first places in the world populated by mankind. Maghellan, Francis Drake, and Joseph Conrad are just a few of the better known travellers who have fallen under the spell of the Indonesian archipelago. The island is the seat of Indonesian politics, industry and culture and although it is one of the smaller main islands with just 7 % of the total Indonesian area, it is home to 70 % of the country’s population.
The beauty of Java can be explored from Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, with its modern, high-rise architecture in sharp contrast to the traditional culture of Bandung, West Java with its beautiful, undulating green tea fields; the Borobudur temple in Central Java, one of the world's seven Wonder; Yogyakarta's cultural centre the famous Bromo vulcano in East Java where your can witness a breathtaking sunrise from the mountain top.
is a combination of pleasant beaches lapped by warm blue waters, rice-terraced countryside which look seem a vision of a rural paradise, home to a people rich in spirituality and the embodiment of gentle friendliness. Dance, music, sculpture, woodcarvings, painting and puppets depict the daily life of the Balinese.
Life from birth to death centres on religion. Their temples are open, cheerful places and there are thousands of them. Temple festivals are splashes of colour, they can be held by all sorts of reasons to celebrate the eternal struggle of ‘Good and Evil’.
is home to several ethnic groups of people. The Makassarese, the Buginese and the Mandarese live in the southern part, the extensive coastal areas throughout much of the central lowlands and along the peninsula’s north-western coastal strip. These three peoples are renowned throughout the archipelago for their skills and fearlessness as seafarers and said to be ver fine sailors.
The famed Toraja Highlands or Tana Toraja is located in northern reaches of the peninsula. The people of Toraja have a rich, ornate culture centered on the ceremony of Death. Burial caves that resemble balconies are carved into the side of high mountains. Effigies - hand carved and dressed in clothing distinctive to the ancestors being honored - are placed in the balconies giving the honored dead a constant view of the land below and the families they loved. Great and colorful festivals surround the ceremonies to which visitors are welcomed guests. The intricate and colorful boat-shaped houses are unique to Toraja.
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is located on the northernmost tip of the island; this is indeed one of the most prosperous and spectacularly scenic areas in Indonesia. Bunaken island is the clean, unspoiled and prime destination for eco-tourism and diving activities, the Minahasa Highland, extremely mountainous and hilly with several extinct volcanoes, is composed of impressive green hills and valleys with amazing scenic views. North Sulawesi is a paradise for the adventure-minded, fit traveller. Superb visibility, tropical rain forests, natural coral sea gardens, and lush tropical marine life await the expectant traveller.
meaning “River of Diamonds” is the name Indonesia gave to her two-third part of the huge island of Borneo. The region is abundant in natural resources, many of which are still untapped, and is covered by one of the world’s largest stretches of tropical rain forest. The Mahakam River is the main route of access into this vast land of mystery and folklore. The former head-hunters “ the Dayaks”, the large, remote orchid forest; the village with “streets of wood”; and ecologically interesting terrain make for a journey surpassing all imagination and expectation. This is a journey back in time designed for the hearty explorer and eco-tourist.
Geographically the land mass known as New Guinea, the western half being the Indonesian province of the eastern most island in the archipelago. The inhabitants of 2 million people form a patchwork of ethnicities, speaking, by most estimates, as many as 250 distinct languages. The island’s great size and rugged terrain have isolated them from one another for thousands of years, and each has developed a distinct culture and lifestyle.
This is a true adventure travel and not for the faint-of-heart. Trekking, hiking, exploring the Baliem Valley in central of Irian. These journeys are experiences in primitive lifestyles that truly beg the question of "What is civilized ?" Explore, experience, and be overwhelmed by some of the most primitive civilizations on the face of the earth today. Be open and be enriched.
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The World's largest Archipelago at a glance
In a country as vast and fragmented as Indonesia, it comes no surprise to find regions that vary enormously in character; the people and landscape of Irian Jaya for example, are markedly different from those of Kalimantan (borneo), and, in turn, these differ from those of North Sumatera and South Sulawesi. Even within regions these are great variations.
It follows then that the tours covering these regions will likewise vary in character. So just as we've divided our Tours into categories, ranging from culture and leisure, to overland, adventure and hard adventure. Which means once you've decided which region you'd like tosee, you can decide exactly how you'll see it.
As you'd expect, these are tours that give you plenty of spare time to do exactly what you please. For some, that means lazing on a sun-drenched beach in Bira (south Sulawesi), Togean islands (central Sulawesi), Tanjungkarang (Donggala - central Sulawesi ). For others, maybe a hectic visit to Kuta beach in Bali. Or perhaps a few days spent on the shore of Lake Toba in North Sumatera.
But you can rest assured that on all the tours in this category you'll find accommodation that has all the modern conveniences and comforts you need to unwind and relax competely.
Most regions in Indonesia developed quite independently of each other ; some were influenced by European traders, others by the Chinese, and still others had no outside influences whatsoever. So perhaps it's best if you decide firstly which type of culture interests you most.
In the highlands of South Sulawesi, for example, live the Torajans, a people with some particularly unusual local customs (you'll read about them later). Each of the larger cities also has distinct culture ;Yogyakarta, in Central Java, once the seatof a mighty Javanese empire, is decidedly Javanese, while Bandung, near Jakarta, reflects far more the influence of the Dutch, with its wide boulevards and elegant mansions. Dutch influence, as well as that of the seafaring Portuguese and Spanish, is also very obvious in the Maluku Spice Islands. But whichever region you choose you visit, your accommodation on each of our tours will be clean, comfortable and , in the cities, very often world class.
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These tours are particularly interesting to many visitors because they take you to some of Indonesia's more remote areas. And although they're not exactly physically demanding, you won't find too much comfort and luxury. But surely part of the attraction of driving from South to North Sulawesi - Overland Tour, or a boat ride up the Mahakan river in Kalimantan or visit to the Baliem Valley in Irian Jaya is seeing a people who remain relatively untouched.
Though obviously more demanding these tours are also very rewarding. You will need, however, to be rasonably fit and be prepared to spend the odd night in some fairly primitive conditions, a small sacrifice once you've experienced the excitement of rafting through the remote highlands of North Sumatera on the Alas River, or Trekking through the vast Lore Lindu (Bada Valley, the megalithic & rainforest) National park in Central Sulawesi.
In most countries, the prospect of travelling overland isn't really terribly appealing, but admittedly few countries have a landscape that compares with Indonesia. Travelling overland in Indonesia crossing still highland lakes in Sulawesi, and driving through tangled rainforest and across ancient volcanic craters in Java. And all in the comfort of an air-conditioned coach, staying in the best accommodation that each city can offer according to the tour category requested.
Stayovers offer accommodation but no tours , so they're ideal as a break between tours or to start and finish your holiday.